Jiyu Kumite

Jiyu kumite (自由 組み手) means “free” fighting. While it can be conducted in way that it simulates real-life fighting situations, it mostly follows the aim to gain points for attacks. Thus, jiyu kumite does not utilize the full variety of Shotokan techniques. It mainly focuses on those techniques which are important for “shiai” (試合, tournament matches) like long punches and kicks. Jiyu kumite, therefore, comes close to a duel situation where two opponents, who are trained within the same fighting system like Shotokan, fight against each other. Knee or elbow strikes as well as hooks and hits with the edge of the hand are off limits.

The major mod, in which jiyu kumite is conducted, is called shobu ippon kumite the major strategy is called ikken hissatsu (一拳必殺) which means killing with one punch. Thus, to gain a point an attacker has to land a punch or kick which must have a devastating effect in the person hit. However, the attacker also have to have control over his action. Because the person hit shall not be seriously become injured eventually.

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A shobu ippon fight during the All Japan Karate Championships.

The 8-point-system of the World Karate Federation focuses on other features. As a result, competitors have a stronger focus on athletics because fight take longer. Killing with one punch belongs not to the strategy but dexterity and cleverness to outmanouver one´s opponent. Some relate this system more to a “game” than as a serious fight.

Further Readings:

Ehrenreich, Michael: We Fight the Way We Practice! Shotokan Karate as a Fighting Art. The Shotokan Times 2019.

Tribowski, Christian: Ueda Daisuke, Sen no sen, and Ikken Hissatsu. The Shotokan Times 2019.

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Tribowski, Christian: “Shobu Ippon is not a game like Sports Karate.” Thomas Prediger about Kumite. The Shotokan Times 2019.


List of Authors:

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Dr. Christian Tribowski